It’s neighborly to be generous, but frequent borrowers soon become neighborhood pests. While it’s preferable not to borrow from neighbors, follow these points of etiquette if you do:

  • Ask for the item but don’t persist. If your neighbor says “no” or seems at all reluctant, drop the matter with a polite “I understand.”
  • Give a time when you will return the item, and be punctual. If the lender says she needs the item back by a certain time, don’t abuse her trust.
  • Return the item in at least as good condition as when you borrowed it. Refill the tank before you put the mower back. When “borrowing” a carton of milk or a can of motor oil, replace it exactly—same brand and quantity.
  • Repair, replace, or pay for anything that’s damaged, broken, or lost. Don’t just tell your neighbor what happened (or worse, ignore the whole thing) and expect him to let the matter slide.